DNA leads to Texas arrest in 1996 cold-case killing of girl found in Topanga Canyon ravine

A Texas man who allegedly killed a 17-year-old Boyle Heights girl in 1996 was in custody Wednesday after DNA evidence connected him to the crime, authorities said.

Jose Luis Garcia, 42, of Dallas, was arrested in September in the death of Gladys Arellano, whose partially clothed body was discovered at the bottom of a ravine in the Topanga Canyon area of Malibu on Jan. 30, 1996, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva planned a news conference Wednesday morning to discuss the case.

“The results of an autopsy concluded the Boyle Heights teen was sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled to death,” a sheriff’s department statement said. “Serology evidence was collected from her body, and a DNA profile was uploaded into state and federal DNA databases as that of an unknown offender.

“Although an extensive investigation was conducted, no match was identified through the DNA databases and the case remained unsolved,” the statement said.

Garcia had been arrested in November of 2019 by Los Angeles police officers on suspicion of domestic assault, and a DNA sample was collected and loaded into a state database.

Based on the match to the 1996 slaying, Garcia was arrested by a U.S. Marshals Service task force in Dallas on Sept. 29 of this year. He was extradited to California on Oct. 14, and was arraigned in Van Nuys on Monday on a charge of murder, the sheriff’s department reported.

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